After clawing their way back into Friday’s game, the Aberdeen Wings took the momentum into Saturday’s contest, grabbing a 4-2 road win over the Minot Minotauros and snagging three of four possible league points for the second week in a row.
But the win didn’t come easy, and Wings head coach Scott Langer felt his team played with confidence.
“Minot got a fortunate power play early, which forced us to defend early,” he said after the game. “We as a team responded, eliminating a lot of their chances through a great effort.”
Wings goaltender Cole Moore made a big save on a rush in the game’s opening minute, and Aberdeen killed their first penalty less than four minutes into the game, allowing Minot to fire off six shots before they got their first. But at the 13:35 mark, the Wings took the lead and didn’t relinquish it.
While on the power play, that first goal came when the puck bounced off the wall behind the Minot goal and into the crease — several shots were taken in close range and Landon Parker got the one that went into the back of the net. It was his third goal on the season, while Ronan Walsh grabbed his fifth assist and Brodrick Williams grabbed his third assist on the weekend, fifth overall on the year.
The Wings remained on the power play following a double-minor penalty and Minot had a nice shorthanded chance, but Moore made another of several big saves to keep the Minotauros off the board. Aberdeen continued to apply the pressure, doubling their lead at the 17:00 mark when Devon Carlstrom fired from the blue line and Patrick O’Connell redirected the puck past Minot netminder Lawton Zacher. O’Connell picked up his second goal on the year, while Carlstrom notched his fourth assist and Jaxon Grosdidier grabbed his second.
Minot took a flurry of shots in the period’s closing minutes, eventually outshooting the Wings 15-12, but Moore stood tall and lead the team into the first break with the 2-0 lead.
The Wings killed off their second penalty in the opening minutes of the second period and eventually widened their lead. O’Connell chased a pass down into Minot’s zone, winning a footrace and sending a perfect pass to Landry Schmuck, who patiently fired into an open back door for the 3-0 lead at the 8:18 mark. The eventual game-winner was Schmuck’s first goal of the season, while O’Connell racked up his eighth assist and Zachary Reim got his fourth.
With tempers starting to flare, the game’s tempo picked up but neither team managed to score. Aberdeen edged out Minot in shots on goal 9-8 and the Wings took the three-goal cushion into the final period.
Minot made things interesting when Justin Dauphinais scored four seconds after the Wings killed off a penalty at the 11:59 mark in the third. Moore kept the Minotauros at bay following a breakaway, but later in the period and on the power play once again, Dauphinais brought the game within one at the 17:00 mark. Looking to find the equalizer, Minot pulled Zacher from between the pipes with 1:40 left on the clock — and 20 seconds later, Alexander Gullichsen got the insurance the Wings wanted with an empty net goal and the 4-2 lead at the 18:40 mark. It was Gullichsen’s fifth on the year, while DuBois grabbed his fifth assist.
Minot applied the pressure in the closing seconds but couldn’t score again, even pulling Zacher for a second time, and Aberdeen took the road win and the two coveted league points.
Moore was a big factor in the win, coming up with big saves at key moments and denying 35-37 shots he faced. Over the two-game weekend, he turned away 78-83, good for a .939 save percentage.
“With Geno’s (Pichora) injury, Cole has stepped up and given us a chance to win each night,” Langer said. “He is playing a lot of hockey right now and handling it well.”
The Minotauros outshot the Wings 14-10 in the third, outshooting Aberdeen 37-31 overall. Both teams went 1-4 on the power play.
Over the weekend, O’Connell and Gullichsen led the Wings in points, each adding a goal and two assists to their totals, while Williams had three assists. Wings Captain DuBois grabbed a goal and an assist, while six more players each notched a point apiece.
After two weekends on the road, the Wings return to the Odde Ice Center this Friday and Saturday, Oct. 28-29 to host the Austin Bruins. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. both nights and the puck hits the ice at 7:15 p.m. Fans won’t want to miss Friday’s Rooster Rush game as we Bust the Barn, or Saturday’s Halloween game.
Tickets are on sale now online at tickets.AberdeenWings.com, and $10 tickets are available at any C-Express location in Aberdeen, with additional purchase.
Looking ahead to the weekend in front of the home crowd, Langer said the focus was on continued improvement.
“As a staff, we want to continue to focus on our habits and playing the right way,” he said. “The Odde is a great place to play, and we as a team are excited for them to see a team that has a work ethic in its identity.”